The recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision that the Congressional maps in North Carolina were gerrymandered according to race was welcomed news. It only confirmed what was obvious for those of who live here. I only hope those elected in the new lines will understand who helped get them there and will work hard and vote for improved public policy. Congratulations to Anita Earls and the folks at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Dr. Barber and the NAACP, Bob Hall and Democracy NC and all those who fought so hard for justice and that America would do the right thing.
What was surprising is that the 5-3 majority who voted to not hear the NC case included Clarence Thomas. That’s right – Clarence Thomas - the same Clarence Thomas that has spent his entire tenure on the Supreme Court as an embarrassment to most people of color. His silence had been deafening as issue after issue has been decided that effect was to undo hard earned gains that affected the condition of African Americans in this country. It was if his Yale education made him forget the years of struggle that helped him land in that place. It was as if he acted in the most conservative manner, people would not see his black skin and he could somehow pass and ignore the conditions of his birth.
It is after all a lifetime appointment and you don’t have to impress anybody. As the story goes about the dog that was chained to a pole in the backyard – once the chain was broken, he stayed in the same space. So it is with Justice Thomas. No longer is he constrained to the master’s pole, but he continues to stay on the plantation. He should recognize that he is free to roam as he sees fit.
Maybe this vote is the beginning of a new Clarence Thomas -a person whose votes count just like the other Justices. One who votes on conviction and fact not right wing ideology? One who remembers, not one who seeks to forget. Some things are so clear that even a blind man can see it. And we all know about justice. This redistricting case certainly qualifies.
We deserve a Supreme Court that is more than a puppet for the president. Our Constitution should stand for something. We claim that it is a document that guarantees the strength of our country. It captures our belief as a civil society. It has often requires interpretation (and amendment).
Brown versus The Topeka Board of Education was more than sixty years ago. Thurgood Marshall is dead. We can no longer count on the Supreme Court to uphold what we thought were guaranteed rights. It is a Court that too often rules on partisan and not factual issues. It is as if the Constitution does not exist – or at least they didn’t write what they meant.
Clarence Thomas got it right this time. He should be commended for that. Let’s just hope it happens more often.